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Canon vs Nikon Live View

Most new Canon EOS and Nikon DSLRs come with live view capabilities. This makes them great choices for stop motion animation. ("Live view" means that the camera can provide a low resolution preview through the lens of the camera.)

Many photographers have a clear preference for one brand over the other, and we are committed to supporting both brands. But there are differences in the live view implementations of Canon and Nikon cameras. Here are the ones we think are most relevant to stop motion animation.

Live View Resolution

The Canon live view size is fairly large—768x512 (for 1000D) up to 1024x680 (for 40D/50D/5D MkII).

The Nikon live view size is 640x426. This is perfectly adequate for most animation, but smaller than Canon live view.

Exposure Simulation

The Canon live view can simulate exposure settings. This means that as you adjust your shutter speed, aperture or ISO values, the live view tries to simulate that.

The Nikon live view acts more like a video camera, constantly adjusting to the lighting of your set.

Heat Production

The Canon live view does not generally overheat. We have had only a couple reports of heat-related issues with the Canon live view.

Some of the older Nikon models overheat when shooting in live view mode in a poorly ventilated room, under strong lights, for extended periods of time.

Newer Nikon models have improved mechanics and may not be as susceptible to overheating:

  • D4 on and after
  • D800 on and after
  • D600 on and after
  • D7000 on and after
  • D5200 on and after
  • D3200 on and after

Note: Dragonframe automatically rests the live view when you step away from the program. However, if you animate for hours at a time, the live will not get a chance to turn off.

Live View Mechanics

The Canon lifts its mirror to provide live view. To shoot a picture, it opens and closes a shutter curtain. This makes very little noise and allows the camera to quickly return to live view.

The Nikon lifts its mirror to provide live view. Some older models must drop the mirror to shoot a picture: To shoot a picture, it drops the mirror, opens it to expose the sensor, then drops the mirror again. (In other words, it uses the mirror as the shutter.) Dragonframe must then open the mirror again to return the camera to live view mode. This process can be fairly loud, and the turnaround time is slightly longer than the Canon.

Newer Nikon models have much smoother live view shooting, and do not require the mirror to drop in order to take a picture:
  • D4 on and after
  • D800 on and after
  • D600 on and after
  • D7000 on and after
  • D5200 on and after
  • D3200 on and after

             
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